Interview: A Conversation On Style With Yasiin Bey

Interview: A Conversation On Style With Yasiin Bey

Building on that, what’s your take on this new generation of kids in areas like The Bronx and Harlem veering away from a streetwear aesthetic and gravitating towards a more tailored look?

Those types of classics and staples are not going anywhere. They’ve been around for the last hundred years, pretty much not very modified at all. Just different fabrics, cuts, and that’s really it, it’s just variations on a theme.

Both of them are always gonna be around anyway — what people consider sportswear, streetwear, they’ll be around. There’s room for all of it. What I see happening, and am encouraging, is those worlds merging together in a retail or online sense: a place where you can get tailored, disciplined clothing, and tailored clothing that’s not formal — in a menswear sense, at least.

Are there any spots you think are doing that well?

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of stores that I go to. I’ve always shopped at pretty much the same places, like Union. Of course, while traveling you pick up things, but I can’t pick out any new shops, but Union’s been there for a long time.

You obviously travel a lot, what are your style essentials on the road?

 

I just wear what I like, what feels good, what looks good to me.

 

I think more in terms of function: what’s the temperature gonna be like? Do I have enough undershirts? That type of thing.

I always keep a pair of 501s with me, crisp white shirts, a dark shirt and darker colored suit, right now I’m traveling with my Ale et Ange grays, but I got mostly whites and a basic blue oxford.

How would you define your approach to style?

Man, I just wear what I like, what feels good, what looks good to me, what works and is durable. I’m out here, and you know, I’m using my clothes (laughs). They gotta be able to stand up, portable, and you know, affordable to keep.

I tend not to wanna get shirts that are dry clean only in terms of my whites, which is why I love Ale et Ange so much because I can just cold-water wash my shirts, hang ‘em to dry, steam ‘em, iron ‘em, they’re good to go.

So it’s a lot of different things I’m thinking about when I buy clothes, but I’m also thinking about not having to thinking about it too — just being able to go boom, boom, boom, (claps), I’m ready to go! 

Right, like the ideal men’s wardrobe is the one where you could just take out any five pieces and they go together…

Yeah, right. You know what I’m sayin’. And I keep my loafers with me, in the winter it’s my zip boots. And I keep some Vans with me, I also have some Chucks with Gucci laces.

Any particular Vans that are your go-to? 

I got some Syndicate joints, but I like the classic slip-on the most — the black with the black bottoms. The Pritchards from Vans OTW are good too, I like those a lot.

Lastly, a lot of guys aspire to your style, but don't necessarily have the same means. What advice would you have for a dude who wants to step up his game in an affordable way?

 

The basic thing is to just pick a uniform, and just go with it.

 

The best advice, or the best applications that I’ve seen has been from my man, one of the partners from Armstrong & Wilson. They make pocket squares; I rock almost all of their pocket squares. Him and his partner won Esquire’s “Best Dressed Real Man” in like 2008 and 2009, young brothers from Philly. Anyway, he said he would go to vintage stores, get a $200-$300 suit, and have it fit for him. He said he did that for years.

The basic thing is to just pick a uniform, and just go with it. I think men and women should have a uniform: something that’s a staple that they go to, but men in particular. Especially if you’re out here living and working and got things to do, you don’t wanna waste a whole lot of time. You wanna be presentable, but you also want it to be affordable too. You don’t have to break yourself — and you don’t, you don’t at all. There’s ways to do it, but it really just comes down to picking a uniform.

I would say, as a good starter, is to get a good pair of 501s, some good white long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts, the right tie, and maybe 2 or 3 blazers: a navy, a black, a gray, and you good. Even if it’s just a navy and a black, just to start. Also a dark tie, a navy tie, maybe a green, or even a yellow for the spring or certain formal occasions, and a great pair of shoes. You gotta have a great pair of shoes: the right boots for cold weather. Everybody’s not a loafer person, but I love loafers because they’re reliable and dependable. You need a good pair of oxfords, and the right pair of kicks — whether they’re Js, Chucks, or whatever, and a good denim jacket. I was lucky enough to get the Visvim denim jacket. Oh, and good chinos: navy, khaki, and you’re good to go. You can rock.

Tags: mos-def, yasiin-bey, celebrity-style, interviews
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